A random visit to Rhino's in Orchard Park turned out be during the place's official grand-opening bash. There was barely an open spot to park in, and we could hear the hard, soulful blues licks of the Dave Constantino Band reverberating out onto Southwestern Boulevard before we even saw the bar on a balmy fall evening.
The bar area near the stage was three people deep, but one of the bartenders on duty got our order within a few minutes. A pitcher of Labatt Blue on draft, a double of Jameson whiskey and a plain iced tea ran a respectable $15.75. The trio of attractive bartenders downed a round of shots compliments of a generous patron along the rail. Without a free seat near the bar, we fell back to a booth near the entrance.
A platoon of patrons swayed to Constantino's dead-on rendition of "Sunshine of Your Love." Thanks to the favorable weather, an open garage door led to an outdoor patio less than 15 feet from the stage. A red-felt pool table was neglected while all eyes were on the band.
My friend Mike showed up, and we toasted a Southern Comfort and Coke to his new and prosperous job. Meanwhile, a few female bartenders in matching white dress shirts and black slacks set off some noisemakers for the occasion.
Constantino's drummer launched into a rousing, 10-minute solo that stirred the crowd into a frenzy. When the band took a break, the crowd came to life. Conversations sprang up, the pool table got some attention, and the patrons circulated.
Even with a complementary buffet, we saw tray after tray of 10-cent chicken wings (a Thursday special) coming and going throughout the night. Once some more friends showed up, we gave in to the temptation and ordered a mountain of chicken wings. Unlike most specials, they were jumbo-sized wings with a great sauce mix. We went to work on our order like a pack of hungry wolves.
From the spotless bathroom to the plethora of posters promoting upcoming band appearances, it's obvious that the owners put a lot of time and effort transforming the place into a top-notch rock venue.
3700 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park
Music: Live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Scene: A hard-partying crowed in its mid-30s to -50s
Dress Code: Jeans and T-shirts. Dress down, and dress to party.
Drinks: Full pitchers, mini pitchers and bottles of domestic beer; a wide selection of shots and mixed drinks.